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Monday, May 17, 2004
Hitachi ramps up production to cut mini iPod waiting list

The six-week waiting list to get a popular iPod Mini digital music player from Apple is likely to get shorter by the end of the year.

Hitachi's hard disk drive unit will spend about $200m to double the disk drive output of its Thailand factory, including the 1-inch, 4GB disk drives that are found in the iPod Mini.

Production of Hitachi Global Storage Technologies' Microdrive will rise to about two million units per quarter by the end of the year, from 200,000 in the first three months of this year, said John Osterhout, who manages Hitachi GST's Microdrive program.

In March, Apple said it would delay global sales of the iPod Mini because it couldn't get enough of the hard drives to meet US demand, which had then surpassed supply through June. Apple now plans to sell iPod outside the US starting in July.

Apple's online store shows an approximate six-week wait for one of the popular music players, which come in five metallic colors. They cost $249 each and hold the equivalent of about 1,000 songs.

Osterhout said the market for small drives, such as its 1-inch Microdrive and the 1.8-inch Toshiba drive accelerated when Apple introduced the original iPod in October 2001. The original iPod uses a Toshiba 1.8-inch drive.

Hitachi GST's Microdrive is also used in Creative Technology's Nomad MuVo MP3 digital music player.

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